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Waikato overcomes strong Magpie challenge

Photosport

Sunday, September 3, 2006    <a href=    Photosport

Waikato was given a stern examination by the enterprising Hawke's Bay side before it clinched victory with 15 points in the last 15 minutes.

Waikato outscored the Magpies five tries to three in brilliantly fine conditions at McLean Park and David Hill made a telling contribution with the boot, kicking seven from eight for 17 points.

It took Waikato a long time to quell the fire of Hawke's Bay, watched by members of the team which held the Ranfurly Shield during the 1960s, and the Mapgies showed enough to suggest they will become a force in the premier division.

Hawke's Bay made the best possible start as it hustled Waikato and camped in opposition territory.

Reward came after seven minutes when, from a well-executed lineout drive, captain and lock Lua Lokatui crashed over in the corner. Aayden Clarke converted beautifully and Hawke's Bay led 7-0.

Three minutes later Hawke's Bay made it 12-0 when Danny Lee swooped on a long Waikato lineout throw and the ball was spun through the backs with left wing Lote Raikabula scoring in the corner.

Waikato finally got its hands on the ball after 12 minutes and, from a counter-attack which swept 70 metres, blindside flanker Steven Setephano took the final pass and raced 25 metres for the try. Hill converted to make it 12-7.

Waikato took the lead for the first time after 26 minutes when, after it applied constant pressure, openside flanker Liam Messam fended off the tackle of prop Clint Newland and scored wide out. Hill converted to make it 17-12.

But Hawke's Bay broke out after a long period on defence with a move which swept 70 metres inside the Waikato 22m and Clarke kicked the ensuing penalty to reduce the deficit to 15-17 at halftime.

Waikato started the second spell more urgently but an awful pass from Jono Gibbes to Sione Lauaki butchered what would have been a certain try.

Waikato was dangerous again when Sosene Anesi was given the overlap but promising young fullback Israel Dagg made a try-saving tackle.

The Mooloos eventually scored their third try 11 minutes into the half when Lee took a quick tap kick, Waikato turned over possession and Lauaki powered through three tackles to score. Hill converted to make it 24-15.

But Hawke's Bay continued to force turnovers, often through flanker Tivaini Fomai and, from one of those, it counter-attacked and centre Nathan Mauger ran 50 metres, dummying through the defence, to score a magnificent individual try. Clarke missed the conversion but, at 20-24, Hawke's Bay was back in the game.

Hill and Matthew Berquist, who had replaced Clarke, exchanged penalties and it was 27-23 with 15 minutes to play.

Hawke's Bay suffered a double whammy 13 minutes from the end when replacement flanker Luke Otley was sin-binned for a professional foul and Hill kicked his third penalty to extend the Waikato lead to 30-23.

Hawke's Bay had a chance to reduce the gap back to four points but Berquist, from 38 metres, was to the right of the posts.

Waikato scored its bonus point try 10 minutes from the end when, after replacement Justin Wilson's pass went astray, Richard Kahui hacked it ahead and first five-eighth Willie Ripia gathered and crossed in the corner. Hill converted to make it 37-23.

Waikato continued to exert pressure and, from its best buidup of the match, Anesi finished off an excellent team try to make it 42-23.

Waikato 42 (Setephano, Messam, Lauaki, Ripia, Anesi 1 try, Hill 4 con, 3 pen) Hawke's Bay 23 (Lokatui, Raikabula, Mauger 1 try, Clarke 1 con, 1 pen, Berquist 1 con) HT: Waikato 17-15